1

LEXICO defines draw on as follows:

1 (draw on something) Use one's experience, talents, or skills as a resource.

Sue has a lot of past experience to draw on

2 (of a period of time) pass by and approach its end.

he remembered sitting in silence with his grandmother as evening drew on

3 (draw something on, draw on something) Put an item of clothing on.

he drew on his dressing gown

4 (draw on something) Suck smoke from a cigarette or pipe.

she drew heavily on her cigarette

Why is it that only in 1 can we use upon instead of on?

Sue has a lot of past experience to draw upon

*he remembered sitting in silence with his grandmother as evening drew upon

*he drew upon his dressing gown

*she drew heavily upon her cigarette

6
  • 2
    I, much to my shame, frequently draw upon cigarettes. Sep 7, 2021 at 7:16
  • @MichaelHarvey Are you sure that sounds fine to your ears? Note that "draw/drew upon a cigarette/cigarettes" return only a handful results.
    – listeneva
    Sep 7, 2021 at 8:03
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Volume 84 May 1991 "The Practice of Speech after Laryngectomy" - From the moment of birth the action of sucking is natural to every human being, and so a large teatfrom a baby'sfeeding bottle can be sucked upon by the patient, to make him realize how he can take air into the mouth. A drinking straw can also be used and if the patient was a smoker, so too can he be reminded of how he drew upon a pipe or cigarette. All these are sucking by the mouth and not an intake of breath. Sep 7, 2021 at 8:12
  • You should note evening drew on (adverb); She drew on (preposition) her cigarette. -- In broad terms, "upon" (a preposition, not an adverb) is more formal in all contexts than "on". -- Thus upon cannot substitute for adverbial on
    – Greybeard
    Sep 7, 2021 at 23:44
  • 1
    On the other hand, the idiomatic form "put upon" (meaning "burdened [by or with something]") doesn't work when changed to "put on": "Don't act so put upon."
    – Sven Yargs
    May 30, 2023 at 22:20

1 Answer 1

-1

Drew upon is best reserved for abstract resources, like "She drew upon her vast understanding of history."

3
  • "Draw upon a blackboard" seems common and that's certainly not abstract. I think it's because the blackboard is high up.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 28, 2023 at 9:16
  • "Draw upon a blackboard" makes perfect sense, but in my experience it is not at all common. Sep 28, 2023 at 19:09
  • I just checked this by googling. The web pages that include "Draw on a blackboard" but not "Draw upon a blackboard" are said to number 53,800. By contrast, the web pages that include "Draw upon a blackboard" but not "Draw on a blackboard" are said to number 3. Sep 29, 2023 at 22:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.